Video Cards

Daniel Fussell dfussell at
Fri Mar 8 18:09:57 MST 2013

On 03/05/2013 09:10 AM, Levi Pearson wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 6:00 PM, Joshua Marsh<joshua at>wrote:
> If you are not one to keep your computers up-to-date with the latest video
> hardware (or if you get a laptop and plan on using it for a few years)
> don't expect to continue using the ATI closed-source driver long-term.
> They're pretty aggressive at deprecating older cards, and an OS upgrade
> could suddenly break your video rendering.  Unless your laptop is close to
> obsolescence when you buy it, its useful life will extend well beyond the
> range of ATI binary driver support.  Fortunately, the open-source driver is
> pretty good these days, so once you realize why X won't start anymore you
> can switch to it and get back to business.

"Pretty Aggressive" is putting it lightly.  I bought a Core 2 Duo at 
surplus expecting (based on my experience with nvidia and S3) to 
continue using it with the same performance.  Only to find out the 
included ATI card had been deprecated at a life of less than 5 years.  
The opensource drivers suck in comparison.  Finding an nvidia card for a 
system that old has also been surprisingly difficult (PCI-e 1.0).  There 
are some ATI cards I could get, but it looks like they were all release 
about 4 years ago.  I don't want to pay for another card that it going 
abandon-ware within a year.  It's a bit of a hot button.

I had hoped the ATI driver would go straight opensource with significant 
company contribution when AMD bought them; I hoped it would put some 
pressure on nvidia to better support projects like nouveau, among 
others.  But then AMD's best designers left the company, they shot 
themselves in the foot with Bulldozer, shafted mature cards to 
deprecated status, and I've been crying over AMD's grave ever since.

I had to buy a new laptop this year for work, and the specs I was 
limited to was ATI (for some strange reason).  A friend had the same 
laptop I was leaning towards, so I figured I'd give it a go.  The open 
source drivers sucked on this new laptop's video card as well.  The 
proprietary driver's performance is more along what I would expect from 
new hardware.  I have had occasional problems with corrupted video, 
particularly after resuming from suspend two or three times.  But, I've 
had that problem on nvidia-based laptops as well, so it's par for the 

> I haven't used nvidia cards enough to comment on how well their binary
> drivers support older cards.
Honestly, I've had more problems in the recent past with the capacitors 
on nvidia-based boards blowing out long before the drivers ceased to 
work.  Most recently, I lost a 10 year old nForce2 motherboard, and the 
drivers were always there and working in new distros.  When I have a 
choice, I stick with nvidia, despite the loss of my everlasting soul.  I 
wasn't using it anyway.

;-Daniel Fussell

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